Deadlift Troubleshooting and I’m Pretty Sure I Found My Future Wife (Sorry Jen from Saugus Hooters)

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Q: I am having issues with my deadlift. No matter what I do it seems that I can never get my deadlift to 400 lbs and above (which is embarrassing). Currently, I am using your Rule of 90 Percent article and finding great gains in everything but the deadlift. Do you have any suggestions or a program that could help with my numbers? Thanks

A: I like lists, so for the sake of simplicity I’m just going to spew out some random thoughts in no particular order concerning this issue.

Side Note: Before I begin, just know that there are far worse things to be embarrassed about than not having a 400 lb deadlift. For instance, take this guy who is currently performing during open mic night here at the local Starbucks*. I don’t know whether I’m listening to a human being attempt to sing or listening to two whales try to rape each other. It’s a toss up.

1. How long have you actually been training (the right way)? Both Eric Cressey and myself have hit on this point before, but it bares repeating. Any healthy male under the age of 50 can (and should) be able to deadlift at least 400 lbs within two years of proper training.

I’m going to assume you’re under the age of 50 and that you’re “healthy.” So all that’s left to ask is whether or not you’ve been training properly given your goals. Can you look at the past two years of your training and honestly say that you’ve been doing everything right? Read: not being the guy who has a dedicated arm or rhombizoid** day? If not, then you have to be patient. It definitely sounds like you’re headed in the right direction. It’s just going to take time and some hard work. You’ll get there

2. Footware (or lack thereof). I hit on this point last week, but in a nutshell you should be deadlifting either barefoot or in Chuck Taylors. Click on the link if you don’t know why. It may or may not lead to free porn. It’s the risk you’re just going to have to take.

3. Leverages. Depending on your leverages, you may need to tweak your training so that you’re not working against your body.

For instance, those with a long torso and short limbs are going to be at a mechanical disadvantage for deadlifting. If this is you, then it stands to reason that you may have a hard time getting the bar off the floor. If that’s the case then a healthy dose of SUMO deadlifts (14% less ROM with this version) and speed pulls from a deficit are in order.

Conversely, those at the opposite end of the spectrum (short torso, long limbs), are typically well suited for the deadlift. In this case, most tend to stall out about one-half to two-thirds of the way up. Speed pulls (preferablywith some accommodating resistance; ie chains) and lots of glute activation work are in order here.

Additionally, for the long limbed lifter, I wouldn’t be opposed to adding in some heavy rack pulls in their programming as well. I know some people think there’s no carry-over to the deadlift, but I disagree. I have big arms, so I obviously I know what I’m talking about.

Moreover, regardless of which body type you are, don’t neglect the posterior chain. There are a plethora of exercises you can implement that will undoubtedly help improve your deadlift (pull-throughs, glute ham raises, single leg work, etc). Personally I have found that when I include goodmornings into my programming, my deadlift skyrockets.

4. Hot Chicks. And if all else fails, spend a good ten minutes looking at pictures of Italian actress Laura Torrisi.

If your t-levels don’t soar and you don’t beat your PR by at least 20 lbs afterwards, blame your penis and send that little booger to its room with no supper. And that means no X-box mister! I want you to think about what you’ve done. *slams door*

*Alright yes, I hang out at Starbucks occasionally when I want to get some writing done. Whatever. Just for the record, I’m not a coffee snob (I don’t even drink it), but I like to use the free WiFi and hang out in the lounge area. Which is to say there are a lot of hot Asian chicks.

**Note to the retarded guy who will e-mail to let me know there is no such thing as a rhombizoid. You’re a retard.

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